Fire Sector Federation questions the impact of devolution on fire safety
Speaking at the Fire Sector Summit on 4 November, Fire Sector Federation (FSF) Chairman Brian Robinson will be examining the impact of devolution on national fire safety and outlining a series of fire sector concerns about the future of fire and fire safety.
With the number of fire deaths at its lowest in a decade, the Federation suggests that the Government believes fire safety is totally under control. However, it warns that this view fails to take into account the changing built environment as well as the potential impact on fire safety standards and operational response of changes to national and local government and fire service structures.
With massive infrastructure developments; significant change in the types of materials and construction processes used; and increasingly complex buildings, the Federation believes that increased vigilance and national scrutiny of fire safety will be vital in securing a safer society.
It warns that further regional devolution, such as the proposed Northern Powerhouse arrangement, matched with changes to fire service management and governance could lead to increasing localism, and result in greater inconsistencies in fire safety enforcement, operational response and falling fire safety standards.
As well as emergency response, the fire service has a statutory duty under the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order to enforce fire safety. It also has a statutory consultation role in the building control process for certain types of buildings, and provides advice to businesses and building owners on fire safety issues.
A major concern of the Federation is maintaining national scrutiny, specifically on fire safety and its enforcement. A recent study conducted by the Federation’s Built Environment Issues and Affairs Workstream has highlighted concerns regarding the clarity, user-friendliness and adaptation to construction trends of the existing Building Regulations. As a result, the Federation questions the adequacy of the Regulations in addressing future challenges, particularly in a climate of increasing localism.
The Federation has developed a strategy document which outlines several areas of concern to the wider fire sector and will continue to develop suitable solutions to these issues, including the:
- Wider impact of fire and the consequential costs of fire to society
- Developing complexity of the built environment and the fundamental challenges it sets
- Modern approach to fire safety founded on risk-based considerations
- Bureaucratic cost of fire to business
- Governance of fire safety for the public good, and
- Impact of blue light structure and organisation on levels of public safety
FSF Chairman Brian Robinson CBE, QFSM declares:
“Devolution offers an opportunity to finally address the question of fire and fire safety from the earliest stages of planning and the Federation believes that fire must be a serious consideration within the devolution agenda.
“The FSF has some reservations with regards to maintaining national scrutiny, specifically on fire safety, should the Government’s devolution and fire service governance plans come to fruition.
“Fire in the UK is much wider than the fire service and this must be taken into account when considering any changes to national and local government and fire service roles, responsibilities and governance.“
For further information on the Fire Sector Federation, visit www.firesectorfederation.co.uk
Published November 2015